We have done so many free gigs we really need to get paid for this tour.
I was talking to a manager. She had asked me to give some advice on festivals this summer and I had asked for the conditions on the tour. This was a hard-working project. Both the band and the manager had put up both money and time to get things going. But in so many ways, they had spread the cost in different ways and now the shortage of cash was stopping them to get on the tour they needed.
The problem, in this case, was that they had spent money on things they really didn’t need to spend that much on. Early in a career you really must be a cheap bastard that no one likes and actually save it for the future. The hard part is to be able to tell when you should spend and when you should not?
I know they had spent quite a lot on a recording. Here is the general rule, if you spend an amount on a recording you just must spend an equal amount on marketing to get it out. Most tend to think that marketing is something you get for free. No here is where you really must spend. So, if you get your recording shiny, then put the same shimmer onto your PR. And that is the first thing that came up and bit them. The cost of recording had lowered their budget so they couldn’t take the free gigs that are needed to make the PR to get to the audience to buy/stream the recording.
Here comes the next mistake. They put over this problem on me. I should be able to bring in gigs that are now paid. The problem is that the recording was the tool that should secure these paid gigs. Now they are just an unknown band with a shiny recording. For a festival, they won’t sell any extra tickets. Even how good they are or how shiny their recording is, they won’t sell anything. People might discover them during the festival but that doesn’t help the festival or the gig place budget. Then they must do a favor and just put them on and hope that the audience then will remember them the next time they put them on. If that is even in their festival or gig place let’s say they gave them the chance and next year when they sell tickets, they get another bigger festival.
No, better to pay for an artist that is selling tickets. So here the offer you can do is having PR money to play for free to just get the chance. The problem is that you can’t do that forever either, so you must have a good plan to do this wisely.
This mistake of trying to get paid too early is I think the most common problem in the business. And I see it from many angles. People think that after they volunteer a small bit they can jump straight for a full salary. Or that the job that you are doing for a band suddenly can have a high price tag. And of course, the band that thinks that they could get the same price as their home turf on a new market. The whole thing is an investment and you are in for a long race. Yes, you need to spend but do it wisely.
Don't Bail Out Too Soon!
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and SuperBowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham.